Lê Vĩnh Tài | when there wasn’t a voice (50)

Lê Vĩnh Tài, the Vietnamese poet and translator, born 1966 in Buon Ma Thuot, Daklak, Vietnam. The retired doctor is still a resident of the Western Highlands, an acclaimed businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


void of a voice

the poet stole the word:

– sound


and it was salty

it turns out he stole the wrong word:

– tears


he could smell the word taken by mistake

the smell of fish sauce and the rain, rays of sunshine


now the only sense he has left is smell

since there’s nothing left but darkness in his eyes…


March 2019



khi bị mất giọng nói
thi sĩ đánh cắp chữ:
– âm thanh
nhưng chàng nghe vị mặn
hoá ra chàng đã đánh cắp nhầm chữ:
– nước mắt
chàng nghe mùi của chữ đã lấy nhầm
mùi nước mắm mùi mưa mùi tóc nắng
chàng chỉ còn có thể nghe thấy mùi
vì hai mắt chàng chỉ còn bóng tối…

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

2 replies on “Lê Vĩnh Tài | when there wasn’t a voice (50)”

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